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Letting Go: Embracing the New ADHD You

Posted on June 25, 2018

 

The other day, I was chatting with a friend of mine, who was sharing with me her feelings about her oldest child and how he will be leaving for college in the fall. He is emotionally ready and mature enough to leave home, but she is desperate to hold on just a bit longer. She spoke about how hard it is to let go; to see our children grow up and become independent, which triggered my memory of sending my own daughter off to her first day of college and literally weeping on the drive home.

My friend spoke of the many ways individuals have to experience “letting go.” We let go of loved ones through death, separations, chronic illnesses (Alzheimer’s, for example), adoption, moving to new cities, even seeing our children marry and move on.

It made me wonder about ADHD and letting go and it brought me back to the early days of my post-diagnosis and thinking back of what life could have been, had I been diagnosed earlier and gotten the appropriate treatment. Could I have learned more in school? Could I have been a better mother?

In talking to hundreds of adults with ADHD, I hear over and over again the sadness, the loss of what “could have been.”

Part of the therapeutic process in working with adults with ADHD is helping people accept the losses felt in a life lived pre-diagnosis, when so much seemed to go wrong. Ravaging ADHD symptoms prevented many from living up to their academic potential. Many struggled with relationships that simply didn’t work out, because the ADHD wasn’t properly treated, causing havoc between them and their partners. Self esteem dropped when the complications of daily living became too much, with houses deeply cluttered, events missed due to time management problems, bills not paid in time, homes lost to foreclosure, and even deterioration of health because distractions and over commitments got in the way of picking up the phone to make a doctor’s appointment.

At work, many struggled because they had no idea that perhaps the job or career path they chose was not a good match for them and their ADHD. Nor did they know that they could ask for accommodations so they could be more productive and less stressed.

Many mothers felt incapable of meeting their children’s needs because they couldn’t take care of their own. The chaos of a young household might have taken  its toll and they shut down, spiraling into anxiety and depression and low self worth.

There are dozens of areas in one’s life that is affected by ADHD. One could suggest that “all” areas are.

We can choose to wallow in that sense of loss- the lost years, as some call it- or…we can choose to move forward. Armed with knowledge about your ADHD, and getting the treatment you know you need to live more successfully, can you make the decision now to start “letting go” of the past? Can you let go of the sadness, the defeats, the relationships that didn’t work out? Can you put the old “you”- the undiagnosed, untreated ADHD person in a box and put it up on a mental shelf, not to be forgotten, but to guide you forward as you blossom into the new you?

This new “you” is now armed with tools and life lessons. Hopefully, you have gotten some counseling to put to rest the hurt you’ve lived with all those years. Now, you have skills, medication and support to help you move forward, navigating new and better relationships, new ways to propel yourself into a better job. Perhaps you’re confident now to even return to school. Or to leave an unhealthy relationship.

Are you ready to let go? Because by letting go, you will have access to all that wonderful energy you now need to nurture all those incredible talents and gifts that were pushed aside all these years, buried under the symptoms that held you back. You can tap into that energy that in the past was spent obsessing about the losses and hurts due to your ADHD. Now, you can free that up and use it to make positive changes in your life. And think how wonderful that will feel.

What has changed since *your* diagnosis? Please share in the Comment section below.

 


The Parenting ADHD Summit Starts Tomorrow (Monday) June 18, 2018

Posted on June 18, 2018

The Parenting ADHD Summit Starts Tomorrow (Monday), June 18, 2018!

The Summit will empower you to help your child survive and thrive when growing up with ADHD. Join 38 experts for the FREE online Parenting ADHD Summit, June 18-24, 2018. Claim your spot at: https://bit.ly/2M25Pcv

There’s a stellar lineup of ADHD and parenting experts, including Dr. Ned Hallowell, Dr. Ari Tuckman, Dr. Mark Bertin, Colleen Kessler, Leslie Josel, Jim Forgan… and me. (And many more experts!).

Sign up now!  https://bit.ly/2M25Pcv


10 Magical Words That Will Help You Get Things Done

Posted on May 30, 2018

 

Today’s message is brief because I’m writing this during the Memorial Day weekend and frankly, I don’t feel like writing, period. Generally, I LOVE to write these newsletters. But sitting at the computer is not something I want to do at the moment. I love writing because each article is new and it makes my brain work in creative ways.

But I hate doing daily, repetitive chores, mostly because I cannot handle being bored. You, too?

I don’t know what I hate more– the ongoing piles of laundry, the dirty dishes in the sink, or figuring out what to make for dinner every night.

A few years back, a friend of mine was conducting a super cool workshop for women musicians, most of whom write their own music. I attended because I am an amateur musician and I thought these women might inspire me to jump in and write more songs. They spoke about how hard it was for them to work as songwriters- to get started and to stick with a song. My friend came up with the most interesting concept that has helped me since, which I paraphrase here:

Don’t do it because you have to; do it because you can.

Or, to make it easier to remember:

I Don’t HAVE to Do it: I CAN Do it

It hit me so hard- how lucky I am that I CAN rinse a dish and stick it into the dishwasher. I have mobility. I can bend. I can see.

I CAN throw clothes in the washing machine. I CAN make my bed every morning.

See if this works for you. Give it a try. Then let me know how you fare by leaving a brief message in the Comment section below.

OK, Time to do that second load of laundry. Because I can.

 


Stop Drowning in Your Own ADHD Quicksand

Posted on May 14, 2018

 

I remember when I was about 13 years old, being teased mercilessly by my fellow schoolmates. I’d just moved from the city (Detroit) to the suburbs and learned quickly that I was socially about 3 years or so younger than these new, fast paced kids. My city friends (and I) were still wearing white ankle socks, simple cotton button down blouses, no makeup (God forbid!),  thought purses were for married women, and, well…you get the picture. This was in the mid 1960s when everything was starting to change.

It didn’t help that I had undiagnosed ADD and didn’t notice or figure out that I looked remotely different from these new kids. I only knew that I was being treated horribly, even though I thought I was a nice kid.

What a target an ADD kid can be, eh? I was inattentive, except when it came to the anxiety that was growing and growing inside of me. I was truly clueless, and the kids saw that and took advantage.

I’d walk home from school, hearing girls behind me laughing: “look at her clothes- oh my gawd, she’s such a joke.”

Being new also made it hard to make friends. I was painfully shy, which made matters worse, and the taunting only made my already fragile self-esteem crumble even faster.

Why am I sharing these painful memories?

Because I know I’m not alone. Girls with ADHD often miss social cues and get lost in the shuffle. We don’t generally cause problems behaviorally in school, so we’re often over-looked. In fact, I was such a quiet, lost shadow in my school, that I walked out of Geometry class after three days, since it was complete gibberish to me, and not one teacher or staffer questioned where I was 3rd hour. For the rest of the year.

These- and so many more- negative experiences took their toll. Though I’d started off as a popular A student in my city school, I dropped to a C student within weeks of transferring into the suburbs. I never studied, never did my homework. High school was even worse. I stopped caring.

Until something wonderful happened. I discovered I had talent in art and music. I took those classes in high school, made friends like me (many who were a little…out there, like me) and finally found my way. A supportive art teacher pumped back self-esteem into my frail ego.

I was lucky. Though I had no clue about college, because my mother was so absorbed with just getting by as a single mom in those days- she didn’t really know how to even pursue college options for me- I was on my own. Luckily, my good friend’s mom took me under her wing, showed me how to fill out a college application, and got me in to the city college, where I took off, embracing the idea of learning and studying hard to the point of earning scholarships- ONLY because I took a course of study that interested me back then.

What’s my point?

Since around 1995, I’ve worked with thousands of women with ADHD, and I hear the story over and over again: “I’m a failure. I can’t figure out my life. I’ll never make it. I’m such a loser.”

We all have our histories to reflect back on. We can continue on the path of feeling misunderstood and embracing the anger we’ve felt all these years. Or, we can acknowledge the hardships, thank them for giving us wisdom, and then move on, carrying our histories along with us for the ride. We can choose to remember that our past can serve as lessons learned, but we don’t have to repeat them moving forward.

With therapy, meditation, self-awareness, and personal growth, comes freedom from the dark stories we carry. We can turn those stories into rich experiences, even if they are hurtful, and use them as a launching pad towards a happier, more fulfilling life.

What’s your next step? Are you ready to take on a new job, a new relationship with the understanding that you don’t have to let your history hold you back?

Share your thoughts in the Comment section, below.

 


Healthline.com voted my ADDconsults blog as one of the 12 best ADHD blogs of 2018!

Posted on May 07, 2018

Healthline.com voted my ADDconsults blog as one of the 12 best ADHD blogs of 2018! Thank you, Healthline!  

https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/best-blogs-of-the-year#4


Do You Have ADD Dreams?

Posted on May 01, 2018

 

Do you have ADD dreams? I do. All the time. Here are a few re-occurring ones that border on nightmares because I wake up from them a bit shaken.

Not Finishing College/Skipping Classes

It happened again last night. I was at my college talking to a professor or advisor. I was telling him I decided I had chosen the wrong major (something to do with animal health), which is why I hadn’t gone to my classes the last 3 ¾ years. We talked about changing my major to something that would interest me and I asked if it was worth returning to my classes to at least complete the end of the semester.

These dreams almost always include not knowing where my classes are and deliberately not going. And often- very often- I cannot find where I’d parked my car.

Fact: When I *was* in college ten million years ago for my B.S., I studied Art Education. I hated the education related classes but loved the fine arts classes. I stuck it out, even through student teaching, then spent 6 horrific months subbing and then ditched the whole teaching profession and instead, returned to college for two years of painting classes, then on to study psychology via social work school. Sound familiar?

Many with ADHD go through a similar school/vocational experience, not finding their passion- or following their passion- until later in life.

I must be school obsessed because another re-occurring dream takes place in a school setting. This one happens so frequently, you’d think my brain would be bored of it, but no…it still makes me super anxious:

I’m in high school (sometimes college) and I cannot find my locker. If I do, I can’t remember my combination. I wake up anxious. Very anxious.

Fact: I actually DID frequently forget my locker combinations in those days and I’d be so worried about it, I’d write it down on my hand. I think there was a time, too, where I’d be unsure which locker was mine. I’ve historically had problems with numbers, so could never remember my locker numbers and would rely on visual cues (third locker past Mr. Cooper’s room).

When I was in college, I had to have the custodian saw through my combination lock, because again, I’d forgotten my combo. I decided the way to deal with all that back then (before I knew about my ADD) was to stop using my locker. At the end of the year, I had to remove my art supplies but couldn’t, so they are probably still sitting in that locker to the left of the archeology department, 40+ years later.

You can see that both dreams reveal anxieties about forgetting things, a pretty common symptom of ADHD.

How about you? Does your ADD follow you into your dreams? Care to share? Good! Just post them in the Comment section below.

 


How I Organized My Papers, Files and More: 7 Tips that Work

Posted on April 18, 2018

 

I work from home in an extra bedroom that I converted into an office 23 years ago, when we bought our house for our growing family that included two little girls, a dog (two dogs, now), a cat, my husband and me. Nowadays, most of my work is done online, so I spend a lot of time in that room.

When we first moved in, I couldn’t make that space work. I finally hired a professional organizer who set up a system that works perfectly for me.

Except like you, I, too, have ADHD and even the best laid out plans don’t always work out.

For me, that means not putting papers away in a timely manner, which means lots and lots of piles of paper, projects, notebooks, and everything else you’d expect to find in a home office.

Those without ADD tend to have tidy spaces, but for those of us with ADD, that can actually lead to anxiety, because it can mean out of sight = out of mind. Which means, we keep our stuff visible. Which means, we often live in clutter.

Clutter can cause more anxiety because it is visually jolting. More than that, it’s a daily reminder that we can’t seem to get our sh** together.

Generally, I get to the point of being so sick of my office clutter, that I spend a day putting things away- filing, tossing, etc. But this time, I let it get away from me and before I knew it, six months passed before I got the courage to make the attack.

I learned a lot from having waited so long to deal with my clutter. I spent time analyzing just what prevented me from facing this task for so long. I already had systems set up- places where things belonged (thank you, professional organizer), so why…why…why…did I let things go for so long?

I realized that I didn’t actually have places for all of my stuff. I analyzed this further: Why? What was going wrong? Why couldn’t I deal with the paper piles? I looked at the papers that had me stumped and then I understood the problem:

I couldn’t file the papers because there was no room in the filing cabinet folders I’d set up years ago. I knew this at some level, but couldn’t face it, because it meant I’d have to spend a lot of time…..

PURGING old files.

So I put it off another few months.

Finally, I got sick of my room and sick of myself. I knew what had to be done but had been avoiding this most BORING and TEDIOUS of tasks. We- we with ADD- cannot tolerate boredom, repetitive chores, and in general: PAPERWORK.

So this is what I did.

I forced myself to start. I asked myself: what area was upsetting me the most? The answer: family related files: medical records, school reports, etc. So that’s where I started- the file cabinet that housed those papers. Armed with bank boxes, I took one file out at a time, blasted music from Pandora (Pandora.com), and got to work.

The fascinating thing was that once I STARTED, I had a hard time STOPPING. It felt so good to finally face my paper demons. Yes, sometimes I got stuck, finding something of interest and having to read it, but then I made a rule for myself: reading was for later.

I got through files and files of papers, putting them in manila folders, labeling each one before storing them in the boxes. Oh, how great it felt to be done with the first file cabinet.

I determined that the next pain in the ass papers were my business files. So I went ahead and purged those. The more I worked at this, the more aggressive I became in tossing papers vs saving them.

I became more aggressive in tossing papers when I asked myself this: ‘Once I’m gone, who will have the thankless job of going through all of this stuff?’ I literally pictured my husband and kids going through my files and piles and got disgusted with myself.

Finally,I eyed something I’ve avoided for nearly 5 years: the cabinet filled with papers 2 ½’ high of my daughter’s special education papers. This one was tough because I knew I needed to carefully go though them, finding all the evaluations and reports from 26 years of psychology, speech, educational, OT, PT and other related services she received. The memories of those very difficult years flooded me with sadness – and anger at times. But I faced it and got things sorted.

With all the old papers cleared out, it was now time to file the overwhelming piles on my desk (and in paper bags) that had been haunting me for months and months.

I learned another lesson.

I didn’t actually have “homes” for all of those papers. I needed to add new hanging files and add new sub-categories to files I’d already made years ago. For example: Terry’s Medical now needed sub categories of

  • Internal medicine
  • Lab results
  • Opthalmology
  • Orthopedics

…Etc.

THIS was the magic key for me. Once I had all the categories I needed, filing became a breeze.

Granted, this took many weeks to complete, because at times, I just couldn’t deal with it, or was simply too busy, but it’s finally done. Walking into my office is now a pleasure, as if I’d given myself a wonderful gift by seeing the shiny desktop instead of one covered in all shapes and sizes of paper.

Oh, here are the 7 tips, if you don’t want to read the whole article:

  1. Analyze what is preventing you from starting
  2. Visualize a loved one having to go through your things as a motivator to get started
  3. Have materials at hand (boxes, markers, hanging folders, file cabinets, etc.)
  4. Decide where you want to start. Stuck? Identify what would make you FEEL better once it’s cleared out. Then start there.
  5. Make your plan
  6. Purge so you’ll have room to store your stuff
  7. Micro file: add new categories to your filing system so you’ll have a home for all your papers

What about you? Is there a system that works for you? Or are you still feeling stuck pushing that start button?

Share your experiences in the Comment section below.

—-> ……and if you’d like help de-cluttering YOUR home, join my online, exclusive Queens of Distraction group coaching today. (for women with ADHD only).

We’ll push up our sleeves together to get things done. Join me HERE!

 


Your Crown

Posted on April 12, 2018

 

Join the Queens of Distraction, my online coaching group for women with ADHD. Got clutter? Unfinished projects? We help you start and finish. With kindness and support. Check it out HERE

 


A Man Who Wants to Lead the Orchestra…

Posted on April 12, 2018


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Posted on April 03, 2018

Little Terry

Me, with the chicken pox, age 5

When I present on ADHD throughout the country, I always feel an intimacy between my attendees and me. I think part of that is due to my being pretty open about my own ADD related challenges. My goal has always been to normalize as much as possible, the ADD symptoms many of us share. When I explain that I can’t keep track of papers or that my upstairs is, well…at times a mighty mess…it helps others to feel they aren’t alone!

So today, I’d like to share with you a few facts about me that you might not have known. Enjoy!

  1. I most probably have a math disability. I still count on my fingers. You too?
  1. I cannot remember the names of people I’ve met even if I turn around 20 seconds later and see them- SMILING at me, of course. So if you say hi to me and my face is blank, please don’t be upset with me.
  1. I have never made a turkey. Timing it properly escapes me. I’d rather not attempt it than accidentally poison my family.
  1. I am a HUGE dog lover and have a Portuguese Water Dog (Harper) and a Cockapoo (Elliott).
  1. I have written hundreds of songs but only completed maybe…5. My ADD prevents me from completing them. Wanna hear one? It’s at http://youtu.be/ta9qzz83T8I
  1. I cannot iron. I put in more creases than I take out.
  1. I cannot watch TV. I fall asleep within 10 minutes. That’s why TV works great for my insomnia. Oh, the only channels I watch are HGTV (House Hunters International!) and oddly enough, the Cooking Channel (which to me is more like watching a magic show).
  1. I get over the top angry if someone starts talking to me while I’m on the phone. I simply cannot hear two things at once and trying to screen out one voice is impossible.
  1. My sense of smell is so acute; I once woke up in the middle of the night certain a skunk sprayed our dog (not sure how- she was sleeping on our bed). Later that morning, I found out there was a dead skunk a mile from the house.

10. I am addicted to chocolate. That’s nothing surprising since so many of us are, so here are a few more bonus facts to make up for it:

 

  • I refuse to wear high heels. I can’t afford to break any more bones. Heels are evil.
  • My sensory issues are pretty significant. Normal talking to my ears often sounds like yelling.
  • I hate talking on the phone. I have to see your mouth in order to stay connected. Otherwise, I’m off mentally hiking in Switzerland, inventing a new gadget or playing Bejeweled on the computer.
  • I’ve been married over 39 years. The secret to our successful marriage? Humor. I’m married to the funniest man alive.
  • I hate clothes shopping.
  • I’m completely obsessed with The Beatles and almost met Paul McCartney last summer. Long story. UPDATE: I did meet Paul in 2016. See it on video at https://youtu.be/foqhv-fbYfs
  • I once screwed up my banking account so badly from not balancing it correctly; I closed it to open up a new one. Ok, that’s not entirely true- I’ve done it more than once.
  • I cannot watch movies with any blood, gore or frightening scenes. They’re simply too intense.
  • I typically wear clothes a size larger (when I’m home and can get away with it) and it all must be cotton or I go out of my mind. Usually, there’s a cotton Tshirt separating my skin from my clothes. I’m happiest wearing baggy jeans or shorts and an oversized cotton T. And tennies, of course.
  • I’m an established artist and have had my paintings shown throughout the country. Many of us with ADD seem to have had many avocations, careers, jobs, etc.

I think the “take home” message here is that we all have our challenges, but it’s important to remember our strengths, too. What do you want to share about yourself? What are you great at? What stumps you? Share them in my “Comment” section below.